Efficient Process for Lignin Extraction


Executive Summary

Lignin, is an abundant organic polymer found in plant cell walls such as wood and bark. Increasingly, the use of lignin is growing in various applications as researchers explore the potential of this renewable resource. However, the ability to extract the lignin from the plants in an eco friendly and efficient manner remains a challenge. MSU researchers have developed a novel process for extracting lignin from lignocellulose using lactic acid that is up to an order of magnitude more efficient than conventional ethanol processes.


Description of Technology

This technology is method of extracting lignin from lignocellulose biomass. The process involves comminuting the lignocellulose biomass, contacting with an elevated pH (between 4 and 9) lactic acid solution then extracting the lignin. A variety of biomasses can be used including corn stover, sugarcane, straw, saw or paper mill product, wood, switch grass or others. Comminuting can occur in the presence of water, yet no costly ethanol is required in the extraction process. The extraction process itself may occur at moderate temperatures at temperatures (between 0oC and 75oC) and pressures (~ 1 ATM), but higher temperatures and pressure are possible which reduce time and increase lignin extraction efficiency. The extracted lignin can be precipitated with water and conveniently recovered by standard operations such as filtering, decanting, leaching, etc.



  • Process does not require ethanol as a solvent
  • Improved efficiency in extracting lignin (an order of magnitude greater) than ethanol approach



  • Wood adhesives
  • Composites
  • Bioplastics and resins
  • Biofuels


Patent Status

Issued US patent US 9,303,127


Licensing Rights

Full licensing rights available



Dr. John Dorgan, Michael Eyser, Clayton Perbix




Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University